In the 1980s, a generation of Indian children grew up reading the exploits of Detective Moochwala, and Gardhab Das. They were characters from Target, a magazine published by the India Today group. Although Target shut down in 1995, it continues to be remembered fondly by its readers. The magazine nurtured a talent pool of writers including Paro Anand, Subhadra Sen Gupta, Ranjit Lal and Deepa Agarwal.Over the last two decades, few magazines have been able to replicate Target’s popularity. Only a handful, including Chanda-mama, Champak and Magic Pot, continue to be published.That hasn’t deterred ACK Media, the company which publishes Tinkle comics, to launch Brainwave, a science magazine for children. Edited by Vinayak Varma – who hasn’t studied beyond class ten – the magazine is a blend of science, technology, environment, conservation and design.Last year, Hachette India launched two magazines for children – Hoot for pre-schoolers and Toot for tweenagers. Both are packed with short stories, fun activities, brainteasers, puzzles and colourful illustrations.Illustrator Atanu Roy, who has also worked for Target, doesn’t think it’s difficult to get print advertising for a children’s magazine. “It is just that no publisher takes it seriously,” said Roy. “Till we get together and break the stranglehold of the textbook and stop being condescending towards kids, we will not move at all,” he said. “Writing and illustrating for children is a specialised area and you’ve got to have a special rapport and empathy for kids to succeed.”Besides, magazines play a substantial role in encouraging reading habits in children, Kaul-Banerjee says. “Magazines can easily be read in capsules, if one so wants, and there are different kinds of things to do, and something for kids with different interests, so that really helps,” she said. “As parents, we should learn to judge the worth of something, especially a book or a magazine, and be ready to pay for it. We don’t think twice about ordering a pizza for ` 250 four or more times a month, but a book for ` 250… And a magazine for that much!”
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